Thursday, October 24, 2013

31 Days of Books: 10 Tips for Read Alouds

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Reading is in our blood.  I've always been a big reader and as a writer, words have a huge impact in my life.  Reading opens new worlds and experiences for our children, and I really want mine to grasp what a great experience it can be.  So one thing we did early on was read aloud to our kids.  Every night before bed, we all climb up on the couch and read the Bible, along with other books.  It's some of the sweetest moments in our days.  These are some of the tips we've learned along the way:

1. Get comfy--Find some place you want to linger.  For us, it's the couch.  For you, it might be your child's bed, or an old comfy rocking chair.  Pile on the pillow, find a comfy spot, and settle in.

2. Make it a routine--My kids miss it when we don't read every night.  Some nights are hectic or company is in town.  But it's become so routine that my kids miss it.  They come to crave the closeness and discovery together.

3. Speak clearly--Read clearly.  When you're "hearing" a story, it's harder to follow the story than when you're seeing the words.  So read with distinction, pause in important conversations, and pronounce new words clearly.

4. Read Slowly--Reading aloud isn't about just getting through it.  Savor the words.  Use your pauses well and don't let your kids miss a thing.

5. Speak with emotion--People don't speak in monotone so why read in monotone?  Using emotion conveys meaning and makes the story clearer.  And if you're reading a lot of dialogue, try using voices.

6. Use prediction questions--Ask the kids questions as you read.  What's going to happen next?  How do you think the character feels about what's happening?  Use the illustrations to your advantage.  As them to analyze the action and predict what's going to happen.

7. Ask questions to check understanding--Ask questions about new words and situations.  Does your child understand what's happening or need some clarification.  Checking for understanding as you read can bring the whole story together.

8. Take turns--Some times my kids want to read to me.  And that's ok.  In fact, that's great.  Allowing them the time to read to me gives them great practice in reading, pronouncing, and reading aloud, which is a skill in itself.

9. Define hard words--Don't assume that your kids know what every word means.  Sometimes new words can be defined in context.  But if you find you're reading a lot of new vocabulary, take the time to define new words and explore new concepts.  After all that's what reading is all about... new ideas.

10. Use Audio Books--Don't forget to use audio books.  We listen to audio books all the time while we're running errands or traveling to visit family.  We've explored so many new words, new characters, and new stories in listening to audio books.  So if you're struggling to find time for reading aloud, work audio books into your day.

Do you read to your kids regularly?  What are your tips?
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